How to Plan a Small—But Festive—Holiday Meal

5 tips to keep your holiday fun, delicious and just the right size.

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Posted in , Dec 10, 2020

Small and festive Christmas

The public health guidance is clear—big holiday gatherings are not on the menu this year. Doing the right thing doesn’t have to mean losing out on your holiday experience, though. Try these five ways to set the table for a meaningful holiday, even when the table is nowhere as full as you’d like.

1)  Lean into Local

Local food producers—from farms to restaurants—need our support now more than ever. With a smaller meal in the works, you can funnel your energy (and your dollars) into meat, vegetables, prepared foods or desserts that are fresh, delicious and local.

3)  Decide on Different

While some among us might crave the flavors of a normal holiday, for others, the classics are painful reminders of what we’re unable to have (and with whom we’re unable to have it). Take the opportunity to intentionally set a different table. Eat on the couch in front of a movie. Order take-out from a new-to-you restaurant. Or experiment with a dish you’ve never made before. You might find yourself with the makings of new traditions to enjoy in future years!

4)  Put Feelings First

The experience of holiday meals is at least as important, if not more so, than the items on the table. Think about what would mean the most to you. That could be setting out your best dishes for two people, plugging in the electric blankets to cozy up in the backyard with a very small group of loved ones, visiting virtually or taking an online cooking class with friends. Along with “what do I want to eat?” over the holidays, ask yourself, “how do I want to feel?”

5)  Share the Surplus

If you are a crowd-pleasing cook with holiday-hosting skills to spare, reach out to a local food pantry, shelter or aid society to create a meal for a family or community member in need. While financial donations and food pantry items are crucial, a home-cooked dish can give people a much-needed sense of belonging, love and dignity during this particularly difficult year.

6)  Downsize Your Usuals

If the holidays just aren’t the holidays without your family favorites, that’s ok too. Bring those delectable smells into your home to your heart’s content! You can still downsize, though, by purchasing a smaller piece of meat (some farms or butcher counters will sell half a turkey), cutting casserole recipes in half and making a plan to freeze leftovers so you can feast for the days and weeks to come.

How are you holding onto the festivities in this small-celebration year?

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